THATCHAM needs a greater variety of shops to attract more people to the town centre, say shoppers and traders.
A call for investment in the town centre was made after a West Berkshire Council report showed that the number of people visiting the town centre has fallen in recent years.
The Newbury Weekly News went to The Broadway last Friday to ask traders and shoppers what they thought the town needed to attract extra shoppers.
Partner at Lilly ladies fashion in the Kingsland Centre, Sarah McAndrews, said the town centre was improving but a wider range of shops, other than cafés, hairdressers and nail bars, were needed.
“It’s nice to have the independents like us but the landlords don’t care who goes in as long as they pay the rent,” she said.
Mrs McAndrews said that independents could offer Thatcham something different and that Lilly was doing well, partly owing to it being the only clothes shop in the town.
“You’ve got your nice little independent shops where you can get something different, whether it’s clothes or nice cakes it’s got to be a bit different."
She added that since the opening of Parkway in Newbury a lot of smaller traders had closed down and that Thatcham’s small market town feel was diminishing.
Elsewhere, Thatcham resident Alan Woolfenden said that he liked the interesting small shops in Thatcham.
“I would like to see it stay as it is currently and build up a little bit," he said.
Mr Woolfenden said that the public toilets in the Broadway would need to be kept open.
He added that a lack of shop variety resulted in lower car park pricing in the town as people didn’t stay as long.
Owner of Cook and Butcher in the Broadway, Pete Congerton, agreed that there needed to be a better selection of specialist shops to pull people in.
“There’s far too many takeaways.
“If you take away the banks, restaurants and charity shops there’s not much left in Thatcham,” he said.
And he called on people to support the local traders.
“Time and time again people say about using local. But saying it and doing it are two different things.
“We are pretty lucky with a good customer base. Thatcham has changed massively. Nowadays you have to get your customers to be really loyal.”
Back in the Broadway, Thatcham worker Maria Shaw commented that there were a lot of hairdressers in the town centre.
She said that she liked the market town feel, saying: “It’s good for little bits but not your main shopping.
“I think it’s good for the people that live here.”
She said a greater variety of shops were needed but didn’t think the town needed anything specific or a national chain.